This was not my date at last night's Slow Food Miami's dinner at Creek 28. This is a Galapagos Tortoise and for the sake the of this post, a visual pun -- slow, get it? Of course you do, you clever soul.
None of us were tortoises but many of us were strangers when the evening began. We smiled, we mingled, we made polite social chitchat, we checked our watches. Then it rained.
The 60 guests did not want to cede the open-air courtyard, but Creek 28's chef Kira Volz overrode us all, staff hustled away tables and chairs, china and cutlery, and herded us all into the lobby for dinner.
The change in venue must have been a pain in the ass for the hotel, but it changed the vibe for the diners. It created instant intimacy. I began talking with the woman on my right, a perfumer with a sense of smell so acute, she could outsniff a spaniel. To my left sat a science teacher who owns a pet chicken. A disparate bunch to be sure, but we're all passionate about food and are united by the belief that it's both pleasure and responsibility. Kira, who gets her herbs from her own garden and much of her produce from Paradise Farm in Homestead, feels the same way, and the pleasure and responsibility comes through in her cooking, the flavors are clean and intense.
Over Spanish wines and heirloom tomato salad, roast pork and braised rabbit for the others and a lovely hominy stew for me, the token vegan, we shared details of local treasures -- farmers markets, gardeners and other delights. By the end of the evening, as we finished up macerated berries and cardamon shortbread with lemon-thyme ice cream, the rain had stopped and a table of strangers became friends. Just goes to show you, miracles can happen. It just takes time.